Your Guide to Entering the Graphic Design Field

You’ve always considered yourself something of an artist. 

From elementary school doodles to your now professional resume layout, you have an eye for the way things should be placed on the page. 

You feel very strongly about color pairing, and, lately, even typography gives you something of a thrill. 

If this sounds like you, it might be time to consider a career in graphic design. Have you ever wondered what it takes? Breeze through our quick career guide, and decide for yourself if it’s time to make the leap into a new field!  

1. Education and Skills

While a graphic design degree will display to potential employers that you have formal training in your craft, it is not required to enter the design field. Many graphic designers boast successful careers without shelling over thousands of dollars in tuition expenses

Outside of strong communication skills, meeting deadlines, and experience in cross-team collaboration, graphic design requires a solid set of hard skills to complete the work you’re being hired to deliver. These may include (but are not limited to): 

  • The Adobe Creative Suite (Adobe Photoshop, Flash Acrobat, InDesign, and Illustrator to begin)
  • Dreamweaver
  • CSS
  • HTML
  • Photo Editing
  • Choosing fonts
  • Color theory
  • Photography
  • Business marketing
  • Storyboard creation 

If you feel that you are lacking in one particular piece of software or design technique, there are many free or low-cost resources online that you can use to start learning. Ultimately, practice makes perfect!

2. Have a Portfolio Ready 

Once you have garnered the technical experience, it’s time to get to work. A public collection of your work will show potential clients and employers that you have the skills necessary to complete any design project they may need. 

Don’t feel as if this process needs to be completely volunteer-based! Once a few pieces of your portfolio becomes live, you might even feel ready to take on some freelance clients on your own. When you’re ready, these tips will help guide you through the steps of starting your own side-hustle through contract work. 

3. Specialize

Don’t think that graphic design is just one generalized field. While many graphic designers must share some core traits and skills, you become more of an asset to yourself and to a company if you specialize and become advanced in one particular niche. 

Popular graphic design specialties include: 

  • Marketing graphic design
  • Corporate graphic design 
  • UI/UX design
  • Packaging design
  • Logo design
  • Apparel design 
  • Print media and publication design
  • Motion graphic design
  • Book design
  • Web design

Leaning into a design specialty that you love might make it feel like you aren’t at “work” at all! 

4. Network and Apply

To succeed in your mission, you need to put yourself out there. 

Schedule coffee meetings with designers you may know. Connect with professionals on LinkedIn. Ask questions, and ask for referrals. 

Without hesitation, it’s time to click that “apply” button. You’ve got this! 

Live Your Graphic Design Dreams

While a career in graphic design can be competitive, it’s a completely attainable dream. With the right work ethic, software skills, prepared materials, and passion for visuals, you can create the life you want– and get paid for it. 

For more career-oriented tips and guidance, check out more of our business content. Embrace the momentum, and open yourself to learning something new! 

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